Thanks for the checking out the blog for this Global Leadership Adventures program!
Here are a few things you can expect:
- We typically receive 2-3 blog posts per week here at GLA Headquarters from our program staff and students, so please don’t be alarmed if you don’t see a blog post daily – that’s totally normal.
- Blog updates sent on weekends may not be posted until Monday.
- Due to many factors, including but not limited to internet accessibility, photos may not always be available to post onto the blog. Sometimes onsite program staff are only able to send text back to Headquarters, where our team updates the blog.
Cell Phone Policy: The GLA cell phone policy is currently in place this summer to help foster meaningful connections between students. This means your student’s phone will be collected every day and returned to them throughout the program during designated spaces of time we call ‘tech time’. Actual tech times and regularity will vary greatly by program location. During designated ‘tech time’, your student may use their phones as they wish. Please note that your student may not always choose to use this time to get a hold of their parents. If you are not hearing directly from your student each day, you can assume that no news is good news! We strongly recommend you follow the blog to follow your students’ experience without talking to them every day. If you are a parent and would like to get in touch with your student directly, you can call us at +1-619-758-3031 and we can set up a formal time for you to connect with your student.
Thank you for your patience and understanding, and we hope you enjoy following along on these unforgettable adventures.
For frequently asked questions about the blogs, please visit our Program Blog FAQ page.
-The Global Leadership Adventures HQ Team
BLOG POST FOR JULY 30
So excited to have all of our students here safe and sound for our final GLA program of the summer here in Hawai’i! We were even fortunate enough to have several of our flights come in earlier than expected, giving us plenty of time today to unpack, decompress from long flights, get in the ocean, enjoy our first dinner together courtesy of Chef Jake, and start getting to know each other!
My favorite thing to do on arrival day is to think back to just a few days ago when our previous group of students left us, and remember how close they became, the surprise expressed by all of them with how they felt like they had known each other for years, the tears shed when they said goodbye and promised to see one another again. Knowing that this group too will experience that little bit of magic in such a short time makes me stop to soak in this moment, to remember it, and remind our students of it on the last evening of our trip. To remember how this group of once-strangers came together so quickly to create the little “Ohana” they will soon know and love.
We have such an awesome trip ahead of us, with adventures to just about every corner of Maui, insight from some of the top marine biologists and sea turtle experts in the field, rewarding service projects, fun games and leadership building activities here at camp lead by myself and our mentor team, Megan, Shelby, and Tamarah, plenty of time exploring the ocean, and connecting with Hawaiian culture, environment, and history every step of the way!
Today we’ll be jumping right into orientation, going over the program schedule, and doing some of our favorite activities to help the students bond and get to know each other. We’ll be updating the blog daily with photos and dispatches written by our own student Leaders of the Day, recounting all the fun and learning for all our friends and family back home. So follow along, and feel free to comment below!
Oh, and by the way, you might not believe it, but several of our students have already had their first up-close experience with sea turtles swimming in the ocean just in front of our cabins.
I have a good feeling about this trip already!
— James, International Director
BLOG POST FOR AUGUST 1
Written by Trent, Kanya, and Viveka.
Waking up to the beautiful weather was just the beginning of this interesting trip. The excitement was felt throughout all our camp friends as we embarked on our trip on the Road to Hana, a windy drive on what is considered one of the most beautiful roads in the world.
The tour guides were so welcoming before we even entered the vehicles. As we began our trip, they introduced us to Hawaii, and along the way explained all the meaning and the history behind everything around us. We drove into the rainforest and saw the blossoming plant life all around us. “It’s like everything is on steroids here,” said one of the guides as we drove through the dense vegetation. Passing by amazing waterfalls and ocean views as our journey continued, it was time for our first stop to get a taste at Aunty Sandy’s Famous Banana Bread!
After a bit of waiting, we finally received a delicacy like no other. It was freshly baked, warm, and mouthwatering. With stomachs full of food, we headed over to Kahanu Gardens, a National Tropical Botanical Garden. At the gardens we met a guide named Jocelyn who enlightened us on native Hawaiian plant life. We learned about the history of different plants and artifacts significant to Hawaii and its history, and learned interesting facts, for example a breadfruit tree can produce ten thousand pounds of fruit. Kahanu Gardens was once the summer home of the Hawaiian Chiefs and held a lot of historical and spiritual significance to the island. One plant that we learned about was “Kalo,” or Taro. This plant is sacred to the Hawaiians and had many uses and was a central part of Hawaiian cuisine. After we finished looking at the gardens, we played a game that was played on these grounds during holidays: tug of war! After a close match and saying goodbye to the gardens, we needed something refreshing, and there is no other place on the Road to Hana like Coconut Glen’s for a sweet treat!
Coconut Glen’s is a food truck that featured homemade ice cream, made from coconut cream instead of normal milk cream. This means that it is completely vegan, and it tastes great too! We all loved it. Several of us also bought fresh coconuts to try.
The last stop on our journey was a quick dip in Pua’a Ka’a waterfall. It was so fun to be able to swim with the water crashing down overhead. We all loved the water, even though it was super-duper cold.
We headed back to camp and ate an amazing dinner made by Chef Jake, met with our mentor groups, then played board games and hung out for the rest of the evening. Road to Hana was an amazing memory that we will never forget.
BLOG POST FOR AUGUST 2
Written by Daisy, Izzy, Sophia, and Anne
Today we awakened to the beautiful sound of the roosters. We left camp at 8:30am for our first day of service learning. We headed to the Maui Ocean Center Marine Institute to learn all about the coral reefs and coral reef conservation. We started our service by listening to Elyssa giving us a presentation on the basics of coral reefs and their significance to marine life.
We learned the three types of reefs: Fringing, Barrier, and Atoll reefs as well as some of the anatomy of the coral and the threats they face. We learned about their reproduction systems and how the zooxanthellae plankton are what gives the coral reefs it color and food.
We also learned how important the coral reefs are to the oceans because they are major ecosystems that provide protection to different sea organisms and life. They not only provide protection but also exist as a food source. Furthermore, coral reefs may provide medicine for humans to battle diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s.
Then, our group continued to view a variety of coral through a microscope. This variety included mushroom, finger, and blue rice coral. For a small lunch break, we headed to a nearby beach park for sandwiches on the sand. We returned to the center and to test our knowledge, we played a trivia game of Jenga!
Each block had a question on it regarding the information we learned during the presentation given by Elyssa. The final winning team received prizes like sustainable bamboo toothbrushes. Some of the questions were: How do coral reefs gain their food and color? What is an Atoll reef?
To finish off our service for the day, we made our way through the Ocean Center’s Living Reef exhibit which holds one of the largest aquarium reefs in the world, visited the gift shop and had the most delicious pineapple doll whip ice cream. Then we went back, had free time for two hours to swim, snorkel, and rest. Before dinner we had a GLA Leadership discussion that challenged our ideas that leaders have to be someone with a loud voice and a mission to save the world, but instead anyone who has the ability to make a small difference every day in someone else’s life.
After dinner we watched a documentary called Chasing Coral recommended by our marine biologist experts, which filmed time lapses of coral bleaching events and how we must save the coral reefs. Everyone should watch it on Netflix! Then we hung out and went to bed.
BLOG POST FOR AUGUST 3
Written by Ryan and Emma M.
Today was our second day working with the Maui Ocean Center Marine Institute (MOCMI). We first drove to Waihe’e Beach Park to participate in a beach cleanup and successfully removed several buckets of trash from the beach. It was very rewarding to be able to give back to Maui and its locals. We found lots of microplastics, fishing gear, and various other items in the process. We learned many interesting facts about beach conservation, such as cigarettes being the most common type of trash that is found washed up on Hawaiian beaches. Even though it was difficult and at times gross, the end result made us all feel good about what we had done.
After cleaning the beach at Waihe’e Beach Park, we played a competitive game of Jeopardy and learned new facts about corals, threats to marine life, and what we can do to help. Our game of Jeopardy was fun and the winning group won stuffed sea turtles.
When we returned to camp, we had some free time to relax and swim in Olowalu Reef. Then we learned our personal leadership styles from a game that helped you reflect on your decision making. After that, we ate dinner and watched a video about how plastic recycling isn’t as effective as people seem to think, that most types of everyday plastics actually are not recyclable, even if the package says so. It changed our perspectives on the idea and was a good learning experience. Finally, we played some fun games where people showcased their most ridiculous talents. Our day ended with mentor groups and looking forward to whatever tomorrow brings.
BLOG POST FOR AUGUST 4
Written by Stephanie, Kali, and Teagan
Today was our third day working with MOCMI. After breakfast, we headed to the marine center to listen to a presentation on sea turtles and the threats they face. Mackenzie, a marine biologist, shared with us fundamental information on their anatomy, habitat, and the species of turtles across the world. We learned about parts of the turtle such as the carapis (the outer part of the shell) and plastron (the soft, inner part), and we even were able to hold their physical shells! In addition, we learned about specific acts, such as The Endangered Species Act 1973, which helps protect turtles. Another interesting fact is that 87.44 percent of turtles are injured by fishing equipment. It was very interesting to learn about their cultural significance and role in ecosystems. Not only were we inspired to see how much these people care about wildlife, but we also learned how to face a stranded turtle who might need our help. To make us remember all the information we learned today, they made a game for us that consisted of jenga blocks with questions for us to answer. We played with other teams and to keep us motivated we got prizes at the end (we got eco-friendly stuffed animal turtles made from recycled materials). For many of us, this sparked a passion to aid endangered species!
After lunch we went back into the aquarium and watched a 3D short film on humpback whales. This was filmed right here in Hawaii during the winter when Whales come back to Hawaii for the season. Then we went to an exhibit in the aquarium about the history of Hawaii and the island of Kahoolawe, a very spiritually and historically significant island to Native Hawaiians, and how it was bombed in the mid to late 20th century for target practice by the US military until it was completely unlivable. This was important to us because as we are benefiting off this land we must first acknowledge and respect its history.
When we got back to camp, we had some free time to rest and recharge from today. We were visited in the afternoon by our surf instructor, Abner, who came to talk about his experience with the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, which grants Native Hawaiian People land and homes, similar to Native American Reservations on the mainland, but through a waitlist system. He talked about the benefits of being granted lands under this system as well as the inequality still faced by Hawaiian people. After dinner, we went to watch the beautiful sunset and took some group pictures, talked with our mentor groups into the twilight, and headed back home for free time and bed.
BLOG POST FOR AUGUST 5
Written by Jacob and Ella
We started the day by heading out to Kipuka Olowalu, right next to our home base here in Maui. The goal of our visit was to restore native plants and cultural aspects of the Hawaiian land by preventing the spread of invasive species and restoring the land to its former beauty. Our group spent the first half of our service cleaning up algae in the Taro patches which would allow the Taro, a culturally significant staple plant to Native Hawaiians, to grow freely and strong. It required us getting a little bit dirty and wet, but the finished product gave us a real sense of accomplishment and generosity.
Next, we raked several piles of leaves and trimmed some extra shrubs to allow members of local communities to utilize that space for social events and other farming endeavors. Before leaving for our next activity, we were fortunate enough to hear Ua, Kipuka Olowalu’s Cultural Practitioner, speak about his cultural
with the natural environment. We even got to hear him play a conch shell horn that he converted into an instrument after finding it in the ocean. It was a sound we’ll never forget!
After Ua played the last note on his seashell horn, we headed to a nearby stream for a scenic lunch and cooled off in the water before making our way to Lahaina, a historic beachside town. During our time there, many of us enjoyed some authentic Hawaiian Shaved Ice. From Piña Coloda to POG (passionfruit orange guava), everyone found an exotic flavor to enjoy on this sizzling day. Of course, food wasn’t the only thing available to buy. We also found some fun attire to remind us of our visit while taking more opportunities to speak with members of the local community.
In classic GLA fashion, no day is ever complete without a leadership development activity. Before dinner, we split into our mentor groups to compete in several team building games, such as helium hoop, lava tube, and a pirate-themed game. While these games were frustrating at times, they truly taught us what it means to communicate effectively and come up with solutions to problems as a group. Finally, we had a wonderful Italian dinner before breaking up into our mentor groups to discuss our day. Overall, it was both an entertaining and meaningful day as we get closer to the end of our trip.
BLOG POST FOR AUGUST 6
Written by Emma and Janey
Today was a very rewarding second to last day. We spent the day soaking up the sun and looking at underwater animals. We started the morning early at 6:00 AM and headed to the beach to surf with our friend Abner from Hang Loose Surf Shop. We split up into small groups and received super helpful instruction from the best surfers on the island. The waves were divine and just what we needed to wake us up and give us the time of our lives. Every one of us stood up at least once and we all blossomed from beginners into well-versed surfers. Overall, this experience was a 10/10 for all of us.
Next, we headed on over to the marina where we boarded the boat. We were met with a beautiful catamaran stocked up with snacks and drinks. We enjoyed laying on the back of the boat and feeling the warm heat from the sun and the cool ocean breeze. The sun was very strong, but the counselors made sure to keep everyone all sun-screened up. After some time on the boat, we reached our first snorkel spot. We all jumped off the boat into the refreshing water and immediately began immersing ourselves in the underwater ecosystems. We saw diverse reefs, vibrant fish of many kinds, many sea turtles, a few sharks (not the harmful ones of course), even a highly endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal. We were all thrilled to be in the company of the animals that we had learned so much about during our previous days at MOCMI. We really got to apply our knowledge by identifying the species and gender of each sea turtle. It was a time where we saw our learning pay off and come to life.
After some snorkeling we headed back on the boat for lunch and some more time in the sun before mooring at our second snorkel spot: a former harbor that was destroyed in the 1990’s by a Hurricane and now is home to an astounding underwater ecosystem. We found all sorts of fish and turtles hiding in and around the remains of the structure. We then got back on the boat and sailed back to the dock. We headed back to home base where we all showered to clean up for a delicious sushi dinner homemade by the amazing Jake. While waiting for dinner, we played some games and went to go pick grapefruits and dragonfruits. After dinner, we watched an incredible video where we got to see the history behind the famous Haleakala volcano and what it meant to locals in order to prepare for our hike tomorrow. We ended the night with a beautiful bonfire where we laughed and toasted s’mores, enjoying our second to last night as an Ohana (Hawaiian for family).
BLOG POST FOR AUGUST 7
Written by Sophia and Emily
We started our last day with breakfast made by Chef Jake as always. Then we headed up Haleakala to begin our hike. Haleakala spans 53 miles but we hiked around 2 miles maximum . Haleakala is a 10,000 ft tall dormant volcano that the goddess Pelē created. If one is to take a rock from the volcano, they will face her curse that simply consists of small inconveniences, such as losing your car keys or breaking a finger. The National Park receives packages each year of rocks from those who took rocks and faced Pelē’s curse, and sometimes the packages returning the rocks also hold bottles of gin, as gin is said to be Pelē’s favorite.
After Haleakala we headed back to camp for packing and cabin cleaning. Once finished, we began getting ready for the Old Lahaina Luau!
We sat right in front of the stage where performers danced Hula and played traditional instruments and shared Hawaiian Culture. During these performances we received a five-course meal. We have been learning about taro as a plant and how important it is as a staple to Hawaiians, and we finally got to eat it in its traditional form as poi, as well as many other forms. The first dishes brought out as appetizers were taro chips with taro and chickpea hummus, and taro bread rolls with guava butter. This was followed by salad with pineapple and coconut dressing. Our first main course was pork wrapped in tea leaves, pulled pork, tuna poké, and raw salmon poké, all served with poi sauce. The third course was a plate consisting of steak, chicken with mango sauce, seared mahi mahi, and sweet mashed potatoes. We had a wide selection of mocktails to enjoy our meals with. Our final meal was a decadent chocolate macadamia dessert. Each dish was incredible and brought us closer to Hawaiian culture and cuisine.
After the Luau, we came back to camp for our closing activities and goodbyes. We sat in a circle and listened to our mentors speak about our program and how it will affect us even far into the future. Then, we closed off the night with an appreciation circle that gave us a chance to make each other feel appreciated. Followed by our final goodbyes as a group.
Respectfully, in tears,
Sophia and Emily